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Turkey rising as affordable, global study destination

Education agents from around the world are becoming increasingly interested in Turkey as a study destination, as traditionally popular countries become less affordable and tighten their borders, The PIE News has learned during a trip to Istanbul.

Koç University, one of Turkey's best, offers fee waivers to overseas masters and PhD studentsKoç University, one of Turkey's best, offers fee waivers to overseas masters and PhD students

Overseas enrolments more than doubled between 2005 and 2011 to 31,170

At this week’s BMI/ A2 agent workshop in Istanbul, attended by 120 agents and schools, agents from countries including Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Latvia and China said they had been actively developing relationships with Turkish universities this year – particularly in the wake of dwindling placements in the UK but also other major Anglophone destinations.

Incentives for students include Turkey’s potential to join the EU in coming years (potentially as early as 2013 although most say it will take longer), more affordable education and comparatively relaxed visa system. Turkish universities are also increasing their recruitment activities overseas after being relatively inactive internationally.

English medium programming is also fairly commonplace at some universities, although interest among other overseas agencies is reported to be highestin Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, where the native languages are also of Turkic origin. The English language website, Study in Turkey explains, “The vast majority of classes are taught in English at most of the foundation universities and some of the state universities.”

Summing up the mood among agents, Mamit Agarwal, consultant at the Indian agency Nodnat said: “Visas are not an issue over here as compared to many countries such as the UK, USA and Australia. And most of these countries are also becoming unaffordable for students.

“Visas are not an issue over here as compared to many countries”

“Despite the fact students are willing to invest a lot in their studies, they are not able to get the proper returns because there are fewer job opportunities in the UK and the US, which have been in recession since 2008.”

Bilken University has 300 international students – up from 20 in 2005 – and expects this to grow

Interest in Turkey is already apparent – overseas enrolments more than doubled between 2005 and 2011 from 15,480 to 31,170. However tougher access to other destinations has allowed Turkey to promote its overlooked virtues – such as hosting two universities in the world top 250 and facilitating strong credit recognition with other countries.

Good weather, proximity to Europe and Asia and average economic growth of 5.5% are also draws

Good weather, geographical proximity to Europe and Asia and average economic growth of 5.5% a year since 2002 (although GDP expanded by 8.5% in 2011 making Turkey the fastest growing of OECD country) are other draws. Some agents say job opportunities are better than in the recession-struck US and UK, and that if ascension to the EU is granted, Turkey would only benefit further (the country is already enjoying many aspects of the union on a commercial scale).

Another plus is that Turkey is Islam-friendly (and seen as a “safer Muslim option” in its region after the Arab Spring). Lujun Liu from Beijing Guidelines Education says, “Turkish education is quite new for us, and as far as I know it’s not yet popular… But we have some Islamic students and these students could be interested in studying in such an Islamic country.”

It is also a draw in Turkic countries such as Azerbaijan, the source of most overseas enrolments in Turkey, the Middle East and Nigeria.

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